Coast Guard Academy swimmer qualifies for Olympic trials

Reworked Illustator Graphic By CWO Scott Epperson

NEW LONDON — Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet Joe Rodriguez has qualified for the 2020 Olympic trials in the 50-meter freestyle swim after his performance at the Navy Long Course Invitational at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Dec. 13.

The Atlanta-native is the first swimmer from the Coast Guard Academy to qualify for Olympic trials.

“I could not be more excited to represent the Academy and the Coast Guard,” Rodriguez said. “The 50-meter free is a crazy event because I spend at least 10 hours a week training for a 23 second race. But, that moment of turning around after finishing the race to see Coach John Westkott with his fists in the air definitely made all the training worth it. Beating the Army and Navy swimmers at the Invitational was just a bonus.”

The Olympic trials will be held in Omaha, Nebraska on June 27, 2020. The trial cut time is 23:19. Rodriguez finished at 23:14 in the 50-meter freestyle swim in the morning preliminaries before posting an even faster a time of 23.07 to win the finals.

“Joe qualifying is a testament to his continued development as a swimmer,” said Academy Men’s Swimming Team Coach John Westkott. “To have improved to the point that he will swim in Olympic trials is significant for him personally and for the swimming and diving program. It will be pretty amazing to see him in Coast Guard gear on deck with the best swimmers in the country.”

A three-time All-American swimmer, Rodriguez also received a 2019 Great Minds in STEM Cadet Leadership Award at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Great Minds in STEM, the largest professional organization for public sector information technology leaders in the U.S., presents awards each year to rising STEM role models, innovators and leaders from the nation’s service academies and ROTC programs. Rodriguez, an Electrical Engineering major, was the only Coast Guard cadet to receive the honor.

He earned a trio of All-America honors last season when he placed third in the 50-meter freestyle swim, seventh in the 100-meter freestyle swim and eighth as part of the 200-meter medley relay swim.

Rodriguez also holds the school record in the 50-meter freestyle swim (19.88) and the 100-meter freestyle swim a time of 44.53. He is also part of the school record holding 200-meter and 400-meter medley relay teams and the 200-meter and 400-meter freestyle relay teams, and was named to the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association Scholar All-American team.

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